Transport & Haulage

With the coming of the railway in 1850 Cumnock Railway Station was opened on the Barrhill on 20th May that year. With the line extended to link with that from Dumfries the Glasgow, Paisley, Kilmarnock and Ayr Railway Company merged with the Glasgow, Dumfries, and Carlisle Railway Company to form the Glasgow and South-Western Railway Company on 28th October 1850. Cumnock Railway Station closed in the Beeching cuts of 6th December 1965.

Cumnock New Station on the Ayr and Cumnock line was opened in 1874 and was located near Glaisnock Street where George McTurk Court stands next to the new cemetery. Passenger services were withdrawn in 1951 and the line closed and was lifted in 1964. The Station is beyond the cemetery in the photo below.

From Ronnie Houston (son of David L Houston) in 2020

David Lockhart Houston 1898-1972 started the company of Houston Brothers, carriers, in 1922. His brother John Houston joined in 1924 until 1932.

David then became a sole trader. 

Brother Alex Houston was never a partner. Alex left Houston Brothers in 1956 to form Alex Houston & Sons with his sons Alex and Blair.

They kept their lorries at Borland Farm from early 1930s. They were at Rigg Farm during the war and eventually in the Tanyard.

The large extended family would come down from Glasgow at weekends to stay in the large farmhouse at Borland.

Houston Brothers became a limited company in 1976.   Houston Brothers Limited was sold to McCall and Greenshields, Kilmarnock in 1978.

From Anne Griffiths (Cowan)

I worked in Houston Brothers office in the mid 1950s.

David and Alex Houston were partners and Mrs David Houston, Sheena Taylor, Anne Cowan were the office staff,  augmented by Jim Waddell at that time.

Houston Bros was a haulage company who had the contract to collect the milk cans from the various farms in the district and taking them to the various creameries as well as collecting and delivering goods from Glasgow and district.

The premises was large and within it was an old double decker bus which was used as storage and extra office space. Maintenance was carried out by their own mechanical staff under Chas Wayman and then Bill Stewart. Sam Findlay was also part of that team.

Drivers included Henry Priest who drove the box van to Glasgow and went round the various companies and pick-up points within the city. At that time fewer companies had their own delivery vans. Broomielaw and Howard Street are two of the depots that come to mind.

Other drivers; Jimmy Graham, John Young, Wilf Shinkfield, John Pyper, Alex Lees, Alex Smith, Hugh Lorimer, Alex Capstick and George Linden. Young lads Jim Quinn and Jim Bell.

Transport was changing at that time and Alex Houston decided that long haul transport was the way forward and he left and set up the company Alex Houston & Sons taking products from the steelworks at Motherwell etc.

Cumnock had quite a few haulage companies at that time,

  • D Clark, Barrhill Road where Thomson’s garage is (one of the daughter’s married Cliff Handley, writer and performer)
  • Bairds, Hamilton Place, where new road cuts through
  • Anderson Brothers, Black Bull Close. Their business was mostly agriculture related.

From Ron Sharpe

David Houston on the left and Alex Houston on the right. Photo taken outside Borland Farm where the original yard was located. Alan went on to work at Massey Ferguson for many years and continued to live in Cumnock. Alex started Alex Houston and Sons in the early fifties and traded out of Waterside Place firstly then moved up to the Rigg Road garage.

By William Findlay

In May 1968 Cumnock saw the arrival of the aircraft industry when Handley Page announced the formation of a Scottish subsidiary, Handley Page (Scotland) Ltd. This was to be a factory based in Cumnock, producing machined components for it’s Jetstream aircraft.

Until the new factory was built, Handley Page took over the former Cumnock drill hall, and used it for training their new staff and initial manufacture. Sadly on the 8th of August 1969, just as they were about to move into the new factory on the Caponacre Industrial Estate, Handley Page went into liquidation. A new company was set up to take over Handley Page but did not cover the Cumnock operation, however help was on hand and the plant was taken over by Scottish Aviation.

The new Handley Page company lasted about 6 months before it too went into liquidati

By William Findlay

The former Handley Page operation in Cumnock was taken over by Scottish Aviation (Cumnock) Ltd on 31st October 1969 and transferred to it’s new Factory on Caponacre Industrial Estate. Scottish Aviation had made the Jetstream wings for Handley Page and no doubt saw the virtue of the modern equipment installed at Cumnock.

By the mid 1970’s Scottish Aviation were cutting costs and in January 1976 the decision was made to transfer the entire operation to the main factory at Prestwick Airport. The Handley Page / Scottish Aviation factory was later used by Stonefield Vehicles.

I worked for Scottish Aviation from 1966 until 1977 when it became part of British Aerospace and remember the events but did not remember the exact dates and had to search for them.

Stonefield Vehicles began production in Cumnock in 1974. Their aim was to produce a new off-road vehicle with load capacities in the 1.5 to 3 ton range, with the military very much in mind, and topping the 1-ton Land Rover. Notable design features were the forward control (cab-over) design, space-frame chassis for rigidity, full-time four wheel drive with a centre differential with automatic lock, and the use of automatic gearboxes as standard. The choice of engines was between the Ford V6 petrol engine (as fitted to cars such as the Ford Granada) and a Chrysler 318-1 V8. The Stonefield 6×4, with a lazy axle, had increased load carrying capacity for applications such as fire tenders.

The company went on to be called Stonefield Holdings and was later taken over by Gomba, and then closed in the early 1990s.

Member Robert Walker donated these two photos of Stonefield Trucks – the one on the lorry was on route to the Scottish Motor show at Kelvin Hall in Glasgow, the other was taken at a recent Caponacre truck show in Cumnock.

Kenny Hodge writes:
I am very proud of my Cumnock roots. My mother’s family are Bell and my dad’s family are Hodge from New Cumnock. I lived in Cumnock from 1976 until I moved away in 1998 and my mother still lives in Link Road and I get home about 4 times a year.

I read about Stonefield Trucks and just wanted to let you know a couple of bits of information. My dad, Drew Hodge left the army in 1976 and went to work for Stonefield about 1977. I can remember the names of the people he worked with and when they were being taken over by Gomba and then ultimately they moved to Rochester in Kent. My dad was classed as a key worker and he used to commute every 2 weeks from Cumnock to Kent. In the end my grandmother got ill and my dad had to leave. He always used to travel with Geordie Anderson and his family who stayed in Kent and are still there to this day. I remember the strike and going to stand with the men over the barrel with the fire in it. Men like Jim McGill and Jim Dunsmuir.

I thought people may find this interesting.

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